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£1bn uplift for mental health to come out of existing CCG budgets



CCGs will be expected to find the £1bn extra a year committed by NHS England to improve mental health care from existing budgets, Pulse has learnt. 

NHS England committed the extra funding this week following the publication of the mental health taskforce report, which recommended the funding uplift as part of an overhaul of mental health care in England. 

The committment will bring the total spend on mental health up from £11.7bn to £12.7bn a year by 2020/21.

On publishing the mental health taskforce report this week, NHS England said: ’The taskforce suggests, and the NHS accepts, investing over £1bn a year of additional funding in NHS care by 2020/21 to reach one million more people.’

But it has been unable to explain where the £1bn will come from, despite repeated attempts by Pulse to find out.

The Department of Health has said that the money will not come out of central government funds. 

The taskforce made a series of recommendations, including the creation of a new role – GPs who have an ‘extended scope of practice’ in mental health.

It calls on NHS England to ensure the creation of 700 GPs with an extended Scope of Practice in Mental Health’ or ’GPwERs’ by 2020/21. 

The report also says all GPs should have core training in mental health within five years.

An NHS England spokesperson rebuffed claims that the money was not ‘new’ money.

They said: ‘The mental health taskforce proposals need an extra £1 billion a year to be spent on new mental health services annually by 2020, and that’s precisely what we’re committing to.

‘Only the most bizarre mangling of that fact would claim this isn’t “new” money when it patently is new funding for mental health over and above what is being spent today, and money that is for the first time being earmarked for mental health from future funding growth. On any definition this is genuinely new investment in mental health.’

However, they refused to explain where the money was coming from.

GP leaders raised doubts about what CCGs will be able to cut to fund the shift in investment into mental health.

Dr James Kingsland, president of the National Association of Primary Care, says: ‘It’s difficult to know where this money is coming from. There is no formal mechanism for NHS England to ensure money is spent in a certain way other than directives. But there’s also been a big problem in how they measure how the money is spent.’

The £1bn ‘committed’ by NHS England outlined in the taskforce report is different to the £940m pledged by Prime Minister David Cameron in January to go towards specialist care to mums before and after having their babies, mental health services in hospital emergency departments and 24/7 treatment in communities.